Flirting With the Zeitgeist Over an Espresso Martini

Espresso Martinis are really happy now. I know this not because I am constantly on the pulse of cocktail culture and my social media feeds are filled with libation trends (as they probably should), but because my gorgeous and welcoming editor Claire kindly enlightened me earlier on this week and asked if I had an opinion on this.

Hmm , I thought, racking my brains a little. It’s not that I was unfamiliar with coffee flavor / liquor in cocktails (mmm, hello Irish coffee is great), but what did I know specifically about Espresso Martinis?

I recalled hearing secondhand from bartender friends that it was that Australian tourists seem to order a lot, but I was not sure what that observation was helpful for. I assumed that it should contain vodka, provided that it was a drink prepared before the craft cocktail, in which vodka reigned supreme. But, practically speaking, coffee has such a strong flavor profile that it makes sense that an unobtrusive vodka would be best for creating an alcoholic beverage without distracting attention. And now that I’ve thought about it, haven’t I seen an Espresso Martini riff on the menu of a famous Manhattan bar recently?

Alas, I am completely oblivious to the spirit of the times. I first heard a Taylor Swift song two years ago. I’m mostly an alien (or just Aquarius), but I care deeply about drinks, and it may not be a bad idea for me to climb onto a plate of cultural significance, especially when Claire – in her immense brain to observe and absorb everything – served me this soft and seductive presentation.

First things first, I did a bit of background research: the espresso martini, as far as I can tell, is considered a modern classic cocktail all over the world. It was invented sometime in the late 1980s by a bartender named Dick Bradsell at the behest of a supermodel who wanted something that “woke me up and then fucked me.”

Bradsell never revealed the supermodel’s name, but whoever she is, I totally understand. I often had to stroll around with a short espresso before the game — my natural pace was more lazy than the party-goer — and then followed by a slow sip of the ready-to-go cocktail. … Why did I never think to skip the extra step and combine the two?

Taking on this task like a consummate professional, I assembled a test group (my partner and my friend Max). First, I used the classic recipe, and then, because I can’t help myself, I made two more with different ingredients. The first – classic – everyone agreed, was tasty and harmless, and reminded one of us of the “coffee tastes that moms love”, whatever that means. I tried the second one with amaro and rum, but it was mostly unremarkable and will have to go back to the drawing board another time. For the third and final, I used vodka, banana liqueur, and Cointreau – you know, classic breakfast flavors. This one was a hit.

If using espresso, let it cool completely to avoid accidentally melting the ice and thinning the cocktail. We all agreed that a cold beer would probably be the best substitute, but unfortunately I didn’t have one on hand.

How to Make a Standard Wake Me Up Then Fuck Me Espresso Martini

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 30 grams of fresh espresso (I mean, I used a Nespresso machine, so nothing of value here) or cold coffee.
  • 1/2 ounce coffee liqueur (I used Tia Maria and I also saw Kahlua quoted)
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup

Pour ingredients into a shaker, cover with ice, shake vigorously for about 12 seconds and strain into a chilled martini glass or compartment. Extra Credit: Decorate with 3 coffee beans (I didn’t have one).

How to Make My Breakfast for the Drinking Laggard

  • 1.5 ounce vodka
  • 30 grams of espresso or cold drink
  • ¾ banana liqueur (I must insist that you use either Giffards Banane De Bresil or Tempus Fugit Creme de Banane)
  • Ounces Cointreau or Triple sec
  • Orange twist

Pour ingredients into a shaker, cover with ice, shake vigorously for about 12 seconds and strain into a chilled martini glass or compartment. Decorate with a pronounced orange note.


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